New Zealand schools are set up to give the community a say in deciding how they work. Here are some ways you can get involved in your child’s school:
1. Let your child know you’re interested and involved
Being interested in your child's education and involved in their school shows them that their education is important to you, and it becomes more important to them as well.
- ask what your child is learning at school and what they’re finding easy or hard. Knowing what they’re learning will give you clues about extending their learning beyond school
- ask about homework set by the teacher, what you can do to help and support them in doing it
2. Know what’s going on
- get to know the teachers and principal, and talk to them regularly about how your child is doing both at home and school
- go to parent-teacher meetings to get feedback
- read the school newsletters and go to school events, including information evenings and assemblies
3. Have your say
- have your say in any topics up for parent consultation
- complete any school surveys so that your views are taken into account
- get to know who is on your school board (they have regular meetings and must listen to what parents want)
- make sure you vote in the three-yearly elections of the board
- be the voice for your child - ask for the support and services you think your child needs at any time
- you can volunteer to help in the classroom, at events, with sports, or on school trips and camps
- share a talent or some knowledge you have. It can be anything - sports, culture, cooking, crafts, language. Talk to your child's teacher about taking a session
5. Join a PTA group
Most schools have a parent group or parent teacher association (PTA) you can join. These are groups of parents just like yourself who want to support the running of school in practical ways. They co-ordinate parent helpers, organise school events, fundraise and help create a strong school community.
6. Think about standing for election on your school's board
All state and state-integrated schools are governed by a board. Standing for election to the board is a great way to be involved in your child's education, share your skills with the school and have your say in its running. You could consider attending a board meeting to see how they work, and if you are interested you could stand for election at the next board members election.
Schools are extremely busy places and don't always have the ideas, man-power, time or funds to get everything done. I recently ask my dad, a former Principal, how we could get more involved. His suggestions were similar to that above, however he added that it is important to actually follow through. If you say you are going to help out for sports day, please show up or give plenty of notice if your plans change. He also said that often times teachers and staff are only contacted when parents have problems or issues to resolve - if you feel something is going well in the class, don't keep it to yourself, let the teacher know. A kind word goes a long way.
Tania of LMB